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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Keith Williamson

Keith Williamson

Alvarez & MarsalRooms 405-7, 4/FSt. George’s BuildingCentralHong Kong

Thought Leader

WWL says

Keith Williamson is highly regarded for his outstanding work on asset recovery matters, with sources noting he has “years of experience at his fingertips”.

Questions & Answers

Keith Williamson is a managing director with Alvarez & Marsal and head of the disputes and investigations team in Asia. He has more than 20 years of forensic and investigative accounting experience, specialising in investigations of fraud, corruption and regulatory issues, asset tracing and recovery, and expert witness services for disputes.  He is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, and the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Which areas of work are currently key in your practice? 

The primary focus of my practice is forensic accounting investigations into financial statement manipulations; misappropriation of assets; bribery and corruption; sanctions violations; and other regulatory issues. I work closely with our forensic technology specialists where the collection and analysis of structured and unstructured data is required. We also perform proactive risk assessments; compliance reviews and monitorships; forensic due diligence; and reviews of financial internal controls, policies and procedures.

What skills are needed in order to collaborate with lawyers, agents and colleagues across the globe?

It is important that there is regular and transparent communication between all parties to ensure that knowledge learned by one is shared with others on a timely basis, and that adjustments can be made to the scope of work as soon as the need arises. Responsiveness to queries; sticking to deadlines, or communicating early about challenges with meeting these deadlines; and the flexibility to meet changing demands are also important. Leadership and coordination skills are critical to ensuring an investigation remains on track in meeting its objectives efficiently and cost-effectively.

What cases most stick in your mind and why?

The cases that most stick in my mind are those that are the most intellectually challenging to understand, unravel and present evidentially. Where the fraudsters have sought to cover their tracks in many different ways, and have fooled auditors, investors, management and regulators over a prolonged period of time, it is particularly exciting to uncover how they have managed to do so, and to interview the perpetrators and understand how their force of personality played a huge part in the deception. 

One of my earliest investigations required me to conduct my work undercover as an external auditor while not tipping off the finance director and chair as to the purpose of my testing (which ultimately uncovered a multimillion-pound fraud and led to those individuals serving prison terms). The perpetrators were high-profile individuals in their community – it was clear that this, and their ability to charm and consistently lie and change their stories in the face of ever more damning evidence, had been key in perpetuating the fraud so successfully for so long. Professional scepticism and detailed fact-based evidence-gathering were essential in unravelling the fraud.

Have you seen a growth in companies taking proactive compliance measures across Asia?

Prior to the financial crisis precipitated by covid-19, there had been a slow and gradual growth in companies taking proactive steps to perform risk assessments; enhance policies, procedures and controls; and monitor compliance in their organisations. While US and European multinational companies have led the way in this regard, an increasing number of Asian-owned businesses with share listings or significant operations outside Asia have also seen the value and need to ensure their compliance measures are in line with global standards.

Which global risks do you see impacting the investigation market?

The global financial slowdown is inevitably going to lead to more companies manipulating their financial results in order to maintain their share price; avoid breaching bank covenants; and delay the flight of customers, suppliers and investors. As cash runs out, these manipulations will become impossible to sustain and conceal. The slowdown will also result in companies cutting back on staff, including in areas such as finance and compliance, which will create more opportunities for occupational fraud, bribery and corruption, to be perpetrated unchecked. Investigations into such issues and more detailed forensic due diligence in relation to new deals are very likely to follow.

How has the use of technology enhanced your day-to-day practice?

The sheer volume of electronic data that is relevant to every investigation and compliance review has meant the use of e-discovery, computer forensics and data analytics has become an essential component of every investigation and compliance review. Developments in technology in all these areas, for example in terms of speed of processing and complexity of analysis and searches, have contributed greatly to improving our investigation methodologies and efficiencies.

How do you see cryptocurrency and virtual assets forming a part of your practice in the future?

We are already working with businesses in this industry as they move to develop AML and sanctions compliance mechanisms, policies and procedures on a par with financial institutions to meet growing regulatory understanding and scrutiny of the sector. I expect this to become the norm across the industry and with that will inevitably come more look-back investigations into potential breaches of AML and sanctions requirements. There is also the possibility that, as cryptocurrency and virtual assets become more commonly used by businesses as an alternative to government-issued currency, we will also see more investigations, asset tracing and recovery matters requiring us to interrogate transactions and ownership of such assets.

How do you see your practice developing over the next five years?

I expect a continued heavy bias towards investigations and compliance reviews in China, but with that will be a shift from working predominantly with US and European-owned MNCs to working with more Chinese-owned enterprises both in China and across their operations globally. I also expect a growing appetite for compliance and investigation services across other developing countries in Asia, particularly South-East Asia, as they mature economically and see more inbound and outbound investment.

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Global Leader

Asset Recovery - Experts 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Keith Williamson is a well-respected name in the Asia-Pacific market, commended for his sweeping knowledge of forensic accounting and fraud investigations involving asset tracing.

Biography

Keith Williamson is a managing director with Alvarez & Marsal and leads the firm’s disputes and investigations team in Hong Kong and China.

He brings more than 25 years of forensic and investigative accounting experience, specialising in investigations of fraud, corruption (US FCPA / UK Bribery Act) and regulatory issues, asset tracing and recovery, and litigation support and expert witness services for disputes.

Mr Williamson has mostly been involved in large-scale global investigations, asset tracing exercises and litigation support exercises on behalf of US, European and Asian-owned corporations facing fraud, corruption, regulatory, asset recovery and dispute issues across a broad spectrum of industries, including oil and gas, minerals and mining, healthcare/pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, retail, leisure, financial institutions, education, media and technology.

He has presented evidence and been cross-examined in legal proceedings relating to forensic accounting matters.

Most recently at A&M, Mr Williamson has been investigating allegations of US FCPA violations in China and the Asia-Pacific region, performing forensic accounting reviews of alleged fraudulent activity in Hong Kong, China, Singapore and Malaysia, performing an investigation and financial restatement exercise for the Asia operations of a listed European company, acting as a compliance monitor for a Chinese state-owned enterprise on behalf of a multilateral development bank, and leading an anti-money laundering review of a Macanese institution.

Other notable assignments in Asia include: pre-acquisition financial due diligence on a proposed Chinese acquisition by a US private equity firm; a US FCPA investigation of a global company’s activities across Asia, including China and Singapore; leading a corporate inspection of financial records in the Philippines pursuant to a legal dispute in Hong Kong and the Philippines; and investigations of alleged fraud and corruption in the China operations of multinational pharmaceutical companies.

Additional work includes: advising and assisting a non-governmental organisation with investigations of the alleged misappropriation of grant funds in Asia and Africa; and managing a team of accountants and lawyers administering and investigating the assets comprising the multi-billion dollar estate of a Hong Kong businessman involved in property development.

Before joining A&M, Mr Williamson spent six years with AlixPartners in London, most recently serving as managing director, conducting investigations and anti-corruption compliance reviews and providing dispute services across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. He also spent 10 years with Deloitte’s forensic and dispute services team, including three years working in their Hong Kong office.

Mr Williamson earned a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Birmingham. He is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Keith Williamson is vastly experienced in providing expert evidence in disputes around asset tracing, fraud, corruption and regulatory matters.

Biography

Keith Williamson is a managing director with Alvarez & Marsal and leads the firm’s disputes and investigations team in Hong Kong and China.

He brings more than 25 years of forensic and investigative accounting experience, specialising in investigations of fraud, corruption (US FCPA / UK Bribery Act) and regulatory issues, asset tracing and recovery, and litigation support and expert witness services for disputes.

Mr Williamson has mostly been involved in large-scale global investigations, asset tracing exercises and litigation support exercises on behalf of US, European and Asian-owned corporations facing fraud, corruption, regulatory, asset recovery and dispute issues across a broad spectrum of industries, including oil and gas, minerals and mining, healthcare/pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, retail, leisure, financial institutions, education, media and technology.

He has presented evidence and been cross-examined in legal proceedings relating to forensic accounting matters.

Most recently at A&M, Mr Williamson has been investigating allegations of US FCPA violations in China and the Asia-Pacific region, performing forensic accounting reviews of alleged fraudulent activity in Hong Kong, China, Singapore and Malaysia, performing an investigation and financial restatement exercise for the Asia operations of a listed European company, acting as a compliance monitor for a Chinese state-owned enterprise on behalf of a multilateral development bank, and leading an anti-money laundering review of a Macanese institution.

Other notable assignments in Asia include: pre-acquisition financial due diligence on a proposed Chinese acquisition by a US private equity firm; a US FCPA investigation of a global company’s activities across Asia, including China and Singapore; leading a corporate inspection of financial records in the Philippines pursuant to a legal dispute in Hong Kong and the Philippines; and investigations of alleged fraud and corruption in the China operations of multinational pharmaceutical companies.

Additional work includes: advising and assisting a non-governmental organisation with investigations of the alleged misappropriation of grant funds in Asia and Africa; and managing a team of accountants and lawyers administering and investigating the assets comprising the multi-billion dollar estate of a Hong Kong businessman involved in property development.

Before joining A&M, Mr Williamson spent six years with AlixPartners in London, most recently serving as managing director, conducting investigations and anti-corruption compliance reviews and providing dispute services across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. He also spent 10 years with Deloitte’s forensic and dispute services team, including three years working in their Hong Kong office.

Mr Williamson earned a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Birmingham. He is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Keith Williamson is an "excellent forensic accountant" who comes highly recommended by peers for his excellence in providing forensic accounting reviews of fraudulent activities. 

Biography

Keith Williamson is a managing director with Alvarez & Marsal and leads the firm’s disputes and investigations team in Hong Kong and China.

He brings more than 25 years of forensic and investigative accounting experience, specialising in investigations of fraud, corruption (US FCPA / UK Bribery Act) and regulatory issues, asset tracing and recovery, and litigation support and expert witness services for disputes.

Mr Williamson has mostly been involved in large-scale global investigations, asset tracing exercises and litigation support exercises on behalf of US, European and Asian-owned corporations facing fraud, corruption, regulatory, asset recovery and dispute issues across a broad spectrum of industries, including oil and gas, minerals and mining, healthcare/pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, retail, leisure, financial institutions, education, media and technology.

He has presented evidence and been cross-examined in legal proceedings relating to forensic accounting matters.

Most recently at A&M, Mr Williamson has been investigating allegations of US FCPA violations in China and the Asia-Pacific region, performing forensic accounting reviews of alleged fraudulent activity in Hong Kong, China, Singapore and Malaysia, performing an investigation and financial restatement exercise for the Asia operations of a listed European company, acting as a compliance monitor  for  a  Chinese  state-owned enterprise on behalf of a multilateral development bank, acting as an expert witness in relation to financial services litigation and regulatory actions, and leading an anti-money laundering review of a Macanese institution.

Other notable assignments in Asia include: a US FCPA investigation of a global company’s activities across Asia, including China and Singapore; leading a corporate inspection of financial records in the Philippines pursuant to a legal dispute in Hong Kong and the Philippines; investigating alleged fraud and corruption in the China operations of multinational pharmaceutical companies; advising and assisting a non-governmental organisation with investigations of the alleged misappropriation of grant funds in Asia and Africa; and managing a team of accountants and lawyers administering and investigating the assets comprising the multi-billion dollar estate of a Hong Kong businessman involved in property development.

Before joining A&M, Mr Williamson spent six years with AlixPartners in London, most recently serving as managing director, conducting investigations and anti-corruption compliance reviews and providing dispute services across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. He also spent 10 years with Deloitte’s forensic and dispute services team, including three years working in their Hong Kong office.

Mr Williamson earned a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Birmingham. He is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Keith Williamson is widely renowned in Asia. When it comes to fraud and corruption matters, he has "years of experience at his fingertips".

Biography

Keith Williamson is a managing director with Alvarez & Marsal and leads the firm’s disputes and investigations team in Hong Kong and China.

He brings more than 20 years of forensic and investigative accounting experience, specialising in investigations of fraud, corruption (US FCPA / UK Bribery Act) and regulatory issues, asset tracing and recovery, and litigation support and expert witness services for disputes.

Mr Williamson has mostly been involved in large-scale global investigations, asset tracing exercises and litigation support exercises on behalf of US, European and Asian-owned corporations facing fraud, corruption, regulatory, asset recovery and dispute issues across a broad spectrum of industries, including oil and gas, minerals and mining, healthcare/pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, retail, leisure, financial institutions, education, media and technology.

He has presented evidence and been cross-examined in legal proceedings relating to forensic accounting matters.

Most recently at A&M, Mr Williamson has been investigating allegations of US FCPA violations in China and the Asia-Pacific region, performing forensic accounting reviews of alleged fraudulent activity in Hong Kong, China, Singapore and Malaysia, performing an investigation and financial restatement exercise for the Asia operations of a listed European company, acting as a compliance monitor for a Chinese state-owned enterprise on behalf of a multilateral development bank, and leading an anti-money laundering review of a Macanese institution.

Other notable assignments in Asia include: pre-acquisition financial due diligence on a proposed Chinese acquisition by a US private equity firm; a US FCPA investigation of a global company’s activities across Asia, including China and Singapore; leading a corporate inspection of financial records in the Philippines pursuant to a legal dispute in Hong Kong and the Philippines; and investigations of alleged fraud and corruption in the China operations of multinational pharmaceutical companies.

Additional work includes: advising and assisting a non-governmental organisation with investigations of the alleged misappropriation of grant funds in Asia and Africa; and managing a team of accountants and lawyers administering and investigating the assets comprising the multi-billion dollar estate of a Hong Kong businessman involved in property development.

Before joining A&M, Mr Williamson spent six years with AlixPartners in London, most recently serving as managing director, conducting investigations and anti-corruption compliance reviews and providing dispute services across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. He also spent 10 years with Deloitte’s forensic and dispute services team, including three years working in their Hong Kong office.

Mr Williamson earned a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Birmingham. He is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Keith Williamson is highlighted as an “excellent forensic accountant” for his impressive know-how of complex litigation related to fraud, corruption and asset recovery disputes across various sectors.

Biography

Keith Williamson is a managing director with Alvarez & Marsal and leads the firm’s disputes and investigations team in Hong Kong and China.

He brings more than 25 years of forensic and investigative accounting experience, specialising in investigations of fraud, corruption (US FCPA / UK Bribery Act) and regulatory issues, asset tracing and recovery, and litigation support and expert witness services for disputes.

Mr Williamson has mostly been involved in large-scale global investigations, asset tracing exercises and litigation support exercises on behalf of US, European and Asian-owned corporations facing fraud, corruption, regulatory, asset recovery and dispute issues across a broad spectrum of industries, including oil and gas, minerals and mining, healthcare/pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, retail, leisure, financial institutions, education, media and technology.

He has presented evidence and been cross-examined in legal proceedings relating to forensic accounting matters.

Most recently at A&M, Mr Williamson has been investigating allegations of US FCPA violations in China and the Asia-Pacific region, performing forensic accounting reviews of alleged fraudulent activity in Hong Kong, China, Singapore and Malaysia, performing an investigation and financial restatement exercise for the Asia operations of a listed European company, acting as a compliance monitor  for  a  Chinese  state-owned enterprise on behalf of a multilateral development bank, acting as an expert witness in relation to financial services litigation and regulatory actions, and leading an anti-money laundering review of a Macanese institution.

Other notable assignments in Asia include: a US FCPA investigation of a global company’s activities across Asia, including China and Singapore; leading a corporate inspection of financial records in the Philippines pursuant to a legal dispute in Hong Kong and the Philippines; investigating alleged fraud and corruption in the China operations of multinational pharmaceutical companies; advising and assisting a non-governmental organisation with investigations of the alleged misappropriation of grant funds in Asia and Africa; and managing a team of accountants and lawyers administering and investigating the assets comprising the multi-billion dollar estate of a Hong Kong businessman involved in property development.

Before joining A&M, Mr Williamson spent six years with AlixPartners in London, most recently serving as managing director, conducting investigations and anti-corruption compliance reviews and providing dispute services across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. He also spent 10 years with Deloitte’s forensic and dispute services team, including three years working in their Hong Kong office.

Mr Williamson earned a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Birmingham. He is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

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